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Reports: WNBA launches investigation of Las Vegas Aces

A WNBA basketball sits in the court in a game between the Chicago Sky and the Indiana Fever on June 15, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

LAS VEGAS (WISH) — The WNBA has opened an investigation into the Las Vegas Aces, the two-time defending champions, following a $100,000 sponsorship deal received by each player on the team, according to reports.

Friday, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced it was sponsoring each player, offering them $100,000, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The announcement was made in a video in which the authority’s president and chief executive officer of the authority said he wanted the players to continue representing Las Vegas.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, every player signed a contract agreeing to participate in appearances on behalf of Las Vegas, and to wear gear promoting the city.

The authority said the deals were negotiated directly with the players’ agents to avoid violating the WNBA’s salary cap, saying there was no involvement from the team.

USA Today confirmed the WNBA has opened an investigation. USA Today reported the investigation is likely to focus on whether the sponsorship deal violates the league’s salary cap rules, potentially giving the Aces an unfair advantage in recruiting players.

The WNBA’s salary cap stands at $1.4 million, while the authority’s deal with the team totals $1.2 million.

The $100,000 sponsorship deal exceeds the annual earnings of half of the Aces’ roster, with six of 12 players earning less than that amount, according to Spotrac. Citing Spotrac, USA Today reported the teams top earners are A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum, with each of them making $200,000. Rookies Dyaisha Fair and Kate Martin have the lowest salaries on the team at $67,249 each for the season.